Dengue, malaria, zika, chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases have wreaked havoc in different parts of the world from time to time with periodic outbreaks. This year, it’s Bangladesh which is bearing the brunt as over 70,000 dengue cases have been reported in the country from January 1 to August 31.
The total number of dengue cases in 2019 has exceeded the combined totals of the past 19 years in Bangladesh, according to data released by the country’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The DGHS said after reviewing 96 deaths, the government's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed 57 dengue deaths so far.
"A total of 185 suspected dengue deaths were reported in the IEDCR," mentioned the DGHS report.
According to the data, of the 51,734 dengue cases in August, 2,428 patients were admitted to hospitals in a single day on August 7.
More worryingly, nearly 42 percent of these cases in Bangladesh this year have been reported outside the country’s capital Dhaka, bdnews24 reports.
This has led to fears of the potentially-fatal disease spreading its tentacles further.
Professor Kabirul Bashar, an entomologist at Jahangirnagar University’s zoology department, said the dengue-spreading Aedes albopictus mosquito has gained “vectorial capacity this time and that is the reason behind the spread of dengue in rural areas.”
“So dengue fever can rise in the rural areas next year. Because the mosquitos now have the virus and the cycle will continue,” Prof Kabirul told bdnews24.com.
Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, IEDCR director, said authorities, as well as people, need to take steps to contain dengue, both outside and inside Dhaka.
Dr ASM Alamgir, a senior scientist at the IEDCR, had earlier warned that the disease could spread outside Dhaka due to the prevalence of Aedes albopictus mosquito in rural areas.
“If this mosquito bites a dengue patient who travelled from Dhaka, then the disease can spread in those areas,” he had said.
Former director of IEDCR Prof Mahmudur Rahman termed the situation “a cause for concern”.
“We have seen the presence of dengue outside Dhaka even in the past. But this year it just flared up,” he had told bdnews24.com, adding that due to urbanisation Aedes aegypti mosquito can be found in Upazilas as well.
“Aegypti is more virulent than albopictus,” he had said.
The first case of dengue was reported in Bangladesh in 2000, with nearly 100 people dying from the disease between 2000 to 2003.